Saturday, November 15, 2008


These photos are of my student, Isaac. Isaac's grandfather, Senor Benitez, runs a small grocery called La Villa, not too far from Dandyland. It's the only really good grocery we have around here ~ they have good avocados, and on fridays, fresh conchas. When I was helping organize the Dias de los Muertos celebration for our public library, I made friends with Mr. Benitez's son, Rufino, and he asked me if I would give his son, Isaac, art lessons.

I don't take on students, generally, but Isaac is so talented and we have so much in common that I said ok.

Isaac was drawing cartoons when we met. He can draw SpongeBob without looking at a reference. After we talked for a little while I discovered that just like me, Isaac has a passion for puppetry, and he likes to dance too. I proposed that we do a puppet show together, and my art lessons would be general direction for that project. And we made the most suitable agreement for me, that my fee would consist of free groceries!

Today we started the experimental planning stage of our theater ~ Isaac drew the parts of our trial puppet; I cut them out and glued them onto cardboard from a grocery box. Then we attached the parts together with twist ties and attached some sticks onto the back. This week Isaac will draw the designs for the other characters, then we'll transfer them onto plywood and make the puppets we'll use in the performance. The butcher in the grocery is the leader of a Nortena band, so we're going to ask them to play the music for our show. They are very loud, and that should make it exciting and catch everyone's attention to watch the play. We're going to make up the dialogue for the play once we see what the characters look like.

We'll have to build a theater too. Isaac thinks that will be a lot of work, but I've done this sort of thing before, and there's a bunch of stuff left over from The Secret Commonwealth that we can recycle. We're going to invite all the people who come to the grocery to watch our show and we'll give them free tickets, this time. It's really exciting!

Last week we did art history. I gave Isaac a big book full of photographs of Mexican art, because it's a good idea to see what other artists have done. He picked out some Aztec drawings for us to copy and we worked on them for an hour. It was hard.
He's keeping the book at his grandfather's grocery so that the other kids can look at it. Some of them told me today that they were artists too, which came as a surprise to Isaac. He looked at me and raised his eyebrows when he heard that. I'm guessing that recruiting them to work in our theater will be a piece of cake.

Speaking of cake, that was one of the great things I got today for directing the experimental stage of the puppet theater; a tres leches (3 milks) cake, + two avocados, a head of garlic, a jar of green mole paste, a week's supply of conchas, grapefruit soda, a pudding-ish pastry with dried fruit in it that was very good, and a bunch of green corn tamales. What a great deal!

I'll post more on the puppet theater as it evolves.


Cathy said...

Very cool. That is one talented kid, and he could not have lucked into a better teacher.

Can we visit the grocery in preparation for Cebah's celebration dinner?

Dan Dutton said...

Sure. You can go with me for Isaac's lesson ~ sat. morning @ 10 ~ & help us with the theater...

He was very quiet the first two times we worked together (& he still is) but he's very smart & really loves what we're doing. He's serious about his work and has an amazing attention span. It took us a full hour of drawing to make copies of the Aztect warrior from one of the codex - he went "whew" - (like I did!) a few times but kept his concentration till we finished.

It's a very nurturing environment in the store. There are other small children there, but amazingly they never pester us while we're working, and all the adults seem very proud of Isaac & what we're doing.

Mary Beth said...

Bravo to little Isaac!

Thank you for passing the gift forward!

How I wish I had a "Magic Schoolbus" and could bring my class to see the play! Jorge and Eduardo would be all over the Atec warrior!

In the battle of nature vs. nuture, blessed is the child with a loving family, one with heart enough to watch he grow into a world of his own, far beyond that which they have experienced or imagined!

Dan Dutton said...

I agree.

There are times when I think that I'd like to have several students. Then I think about how much I'm not getting done already & demure to professionals who have more fortitude.

It is great to see his parents and community supporting him.

Apifera Farm said...

I'm way behind on your posts.
Awesome you must be a wonderfully engaging teacher, non sedentary I'm sure. I'm sure you'll inspire him more than Mrs. Oberg, the crabapple that was my 2nd grade art teacher who when she looked at the christmas tree I painted for my parents, she said, "Oh dear, they won't want that"...
Imagine.. So puppets, good !

Dan Dutton said...

Mrs Oberg the Crabapple ~ HEY! Now that'd be a good puppet! Thanks!